Southsea celebrant encourages families to consider alternative memorial methods for loved ones who died in lockdown

FAMILIES are being encouraged to consider alternative ways to remember loved ones as the government’s roadmap paves the way for larger gatherings.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 11:55 am

Independent celebrant Bryony Wildblood, from Southsea has been supporting people to arrange funeral services during lockdown.

However, the 36-year-old said many families have expressed concern that they have not paid ‘proper’ tribute to their loved ones within existing restrictions.

During the national lockdown, funerals can be attended by 30 people, while commemorative events such as wakes or scattering of ashes can have six people in attendance.

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Bryony Wildblood, Interfaith Minister and Celebrant, at Old Portsmouth, where many families leave memorials to their loved ones

Bryony, who is also an interfaith minister, said: ‘I want to reassure people that there are alternative ways to celebrate and commemorate the life of those dearest to us.

‘Traditionally, funerals and wakes have provided the opportunity to do this, but many families feel they need to do something more due to restrictions on the number of people who could attend a service during this past year.’

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While many families opted for a restricted funeral service, with live streaming for those who could not attend, other families chose direct cremation, with plans to hold a memorial or gathering in the future.

Whether or not a service was held, Bryony said many families, friends and communities feel they need something more to celebrate the life of somebody they have lost during the pandemic.

Bryony said: ‘I remember one particular occasion, when we gathered to inter the ashes of a woman who adored her garden.

‘Everybody joined us in planting crocus bulbs in the ground above her ashes, and still more bulbs were gifted to her family and friends to plant in their gardens at home.

‘On another occasion, the ashes of a gentleman who had loved sailing were scattered from a favourite launching point, and his family sat around sharing their memories of him over a bottle of fizz. It was poignant, and full of laughter and tears.’

Bryony added she would like people to feel empowered to create their own ceremonies, rituals and gatherings in the coming months.

She added: ‘Whether it is scattering ashes somewhere special, or planting a tree, there are meaningful ways for larger groups to gather to celebrate and share the stories of those that we have loved and lost as we find our way out of lockdown.’

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